PETER YATES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY PETER YATES / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Christopher Somerville. Portrait of US geneticist Professor Christopher Somerville, seen tending to thale cress plants Arabidopsis thaliana which he is using to grow plastic. The plants are cultured in petri dishes & test tubes. Somerville conducts biopolymer research at the Carnegie Institute of Washington in Stanford, California. He and his team have transplanted genes from the bacterium Alcaligenes eutrophus, which code for plastic production, into thale cress cells. The plants then manufacture the natural biodegradable plastic polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB). This genetic engineer- ing may enable plastics to be harvested from plant crops, which may replace oil-based polymers.
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